The blockbuster film “New Year’s Eve” features hometown girl Jackie Seiden alongside its numerous stars, such as Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert De Niro and Katherine Heigl.
And it’s been a banner year for Seiden, who also appears in the movie “Jack and Jill” with Adam Sandler—also in theaters now—and recently performed in “Hairspray” at the Hollywood Bowl. The Highland Park High and Northwestern alum played Amber Von Tussle in “Hairspray” on Broadway and also performed in the national tour of “Jersey Boys.” She’s currently in a musical in L.A. based on the work of another North Shore native, John Hughes. She plays the character based on Molly Ringwald’s roles in several Hughes’ films.
We caught up with Seiden to talk about her star-studded life.
Tell me about your role in “New Year’s Eve.”
It was a dream come true. Garry Marshall has been a mentor of mine for years. My character marries Joey McIntyre, from New Kids on the Block, and we’re best friends with Josh Duhamel’s character. What girl wouldn’t want to be part of that?!
What was it like to work opposite Joey McIntyre?
He’s adorable, and the sweetest guy in the whole world. He’s always on his game. He’s a really hard worker.
So, are you dating him?
Oh, definitely not! I love his wife. They just had their third child. Joey and I are really good friends. Actually, my boyfriend, who I live with here in L.A., is from Highland Park and went to Northwestern, too—Richie Keen. He’s a very successful director and actor. I traveled thousands of miles to meet a guy from Highland Park!
And tell me about your role in “Jack and Jill.”
I play a girl from the Bronx who is mean to Adam Sandler. That was fun: Who gets to talk smack to Adam Sandler?! That’s it! I could die tomorrow!
Adam is like the ringleader in a circus; everyone’s watching him to see his next move. To see Al Pacino and Katie Holmes take orders from Adam Sandler, who is so comically brilliant, is fascinating. Another dream come true—I grew up watching Adam’s movies, as well as Garry Marshall’s (“Pretty Woman,” etc.).
You spend a lot of your time surrounded by famous people. Do you get star-struck?
In the moment, I’m just another actor getting the job done. Then, a couple of days after, it hits me, and I’m overwhelmed. I did a musical called “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” directed by Twyla Tharp, featuring the music of Bob Dylan. Twyla said to me, “I left something for you in the lobby.” So I go to the lobby and there’s Bob Dylan, and he said, “How ya doin’?” The reason I play the guitar, the reason I write poetry, is because of Bob Dylan. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid. I said, “What’s going on? Your music sounds pretty great in this musical.” (Who says that to Bob Dylan?!) And he said, “Oh, that’s so great to hear.” We shook hands, and as I was walking away, my knees started to buckle. I had a similar moment with Al Pacino.
Who influenced you growing up here?
I owe so much of this to my teachers and schools. At Highland Park High, I had Scott Shallenbarger and Tim Conway as my acting teachers. I would not be here today if it weren’t for them. I remember Scott saying to me my freshman year, “Honey, you have it. You go get it.” I live and die by those words. When I’m feeling insecure and frustrated, I hear those words in my head and think, they believed in me, I believe in me.
Also my vocal teacher, Faye Kaiser, in Evanston and Highland Park, and Susan Haimes, and, of course, the unparalleled theater program at Northwestern.
Do you get back here often?
All my family is still in the area, so I try to get back whenever I can. No place on earth grounds me more.